Almost all the Imams declared the same view about their opinion. They used to say:
I have a question for those who follow a specific person. What are the qualities and distinctive features of a person to make him preferable to others and how do they consider one Imam superior to another? Their answer to this question is known. They say that their Imam was the most learned man of his age and he excelled his contemporaries and predecessors in perfection and proficiency. I ask them how they come to know that he was the most learned man of his age. The very statement of their goes against them. A judge is required to know and understand the entire arguments and proofs. But those who proclaim one Imam to be the greatest and most learned man are themselves not proficient enough to be a judge. They are surely not more learned than the Imams, if they do not even understand the point of view of the Imam they follow. Moreover, if the basis of 'following' is to be 'more learned', then Abu Bakr, 'Umar, Uthman, 'Ali and Ibn Masud are certainly more learned than the Imams, and the whole Ummah agree about their superior scholarship.
Someone should ask the blind followers: To whom do you give a similar status, and to whose words, with that of the Prophet (s.a.w)? Before the Imam's birth what was the system of people concerning Islam and how did they used to lead their lives? What was the source of their guidance? What was their faith before the inception of blind following? Were they not guided and pious Muslims? O blind followers! Would that you had stopped there, where you had taken the words of an Imam as the words of the Prophet (s.a.w), but you surpassed the limits and you followed the words of the Imam more eagerly and zealously than the words of the Prophet (s.a.w)! Anyhow, tell us prior to the birth of the Imams, was Muslim Ummah on the right path or had it deviated from the right path? Certainly you agree that the Muslim Ummah was on the right path. Now you again say: did they follow anything else or anyone else except the Qur'an and Sunnah and the noble Companions of the Prophet (s.a.w)? Is it not true that they gave priority to the Qur'an and Sunnah and gave preference to the footprints of the Companions of the Prophet (s.a.w), and wherever they had difference of opinion, they always turned to the Qur'an and Sunnah for guidance and they never accepted personal views? Positively this is the right path of Islam. Divergence from this path is nothing but deviation and vice.
It is apparent that the blind followers of Mazahib degrade the noble Companions of the Prophet (s.a.w) and their venerable followers, all religious leaders and Imams, except those whom they follow. They pull them down from their honourable place to an ordinary level where there is no value in their views and their verdicts have no significance at all. They make use of the views and verdicts of others only when it is necessary and inevitable to refute them and advance the authority and prestige of their Imam. They do not hesitate to tamper with the meanings of the Verses of the Noble Qur'an and Ahadith.
If a verse of the Noble Qur'an or a Hadith is contrary to the views of their Imam, they would interpret the verse of the Qur'an or the Hadith according to their prefixed viewpoint. They make every effort to defend the point of view of their Imam, and in this effort they exceed the limits of Shari'ah (Divine Law). In this exercise they have gone so far that we cannot make them understand. We complain to Allah against their innovations in religion, nonsense and prejudice - and only Allah can deal with them and settle their affairs.
Had not Allah taken the responsibility of safeguarding the purity of Islam and regularly creating a class of people who would go on explaining the true face of Islam to the world, working persistently for its exaltation and defending it against all kinds of assaults, then Islam would have been obliterated long ago. Who could be more rude and disrespectful to the noble Companions of the Prophet (s.a.w) and to the noble followers of the Companions and to the religious leaders, and who could be more guilty of deviating from the right path of Islam, than he who trusts and goes after only one Imam and seeks guidance from him in each and every matter and disregards the Qur'an and Sunnah?
Every sect of blind followers contradicts the Commands of Allah and the Prophet (s.a.w). They are far away from the right path of venerable Companions of the Prophet (s.a.w). They are also unaware of the teachings of their Imams. The way they are going is not the way of sane people. The infamous descendants have changed the right path of the ancestors and adulterated the religion. Commands of the Qur'an, Hadith of the Prophet (s.a.w) and sayings of Khulafa-ur-Rashidun and other Companions of the Prophet (s.a.w) have no value for them. They evaluate these commands, Ahadith, words and sayings in accordance with the views of their Imam, whatever is in harmony with their views, they accept and whatever is against the views of their Imam, they turn down and say, " We have reason to reject it and there is no way to accept it ". Their scholars try their best to change the meanings to accommodate their own views.
These are the people who have divided the Muslim Ummah into different sects and every sect tries hard to prove his correctness and righteousness. Ardent preachers of every sect are busy propagating their viewpoint and proving themselves on the right path accusing others of going astray. Each sect refuses to act according to any other's point of view and considers them all as outcasts and belonging to another religion, whereas it was expected from all sects to get together around one formula which is common to all. In other words, all should unite under the flag of the Prophet (s.a.w), and should not obey anybody else.
Taking the opinions and analogies of the scholars is like the use of Tayammum (dry ablution) which is only used when water is not available. So, when the Qur'anic text and tradition is accessible, it is obligatory to act according to these and not go after the words of an Imam. But blind followers depend upon Tayammum which is absolutely erroneous in the presence of water. It is startling to know that some followers follow the later era followers of their Imam, and pay no heed to the words of distinguished and eminent personalities like Imam Bukhari, Abdullah bin Mubarak, Imam Auzai and Abu Sufyan al-Thauri. Sometimes they do not care for the teachings and opinions of great religious guides like Hasan Basari, Sa'eed bin Musaiyab and Imam Abu Hanifah, whom they claim to follow, but they act upon the words of later era followers of the above mentioned religious leaders and Imams. It has been noticed that sometimes they prefer the words of later era followers to the words of the four guided Caliphs and Abdullah bin Mas'ud.
If the words and verdicts of later era scholars were considered like those of the Companions of the Prophet (s.a.w) and their followers it would have been tolerated, but the matter is more shocking than this. They insist to follow the later era scholars and prohibit to follow the noble Companions of the Prophet (s.a.w). May Allah give them wisdom to differentiate between right and wrong.
Imam Malik said that the last period of the Muslim Ummah can be rectified and reformed by adopting the same ways and methods which were adopted by earlier Muslims. Certainly the earlier Muslims depended on the Qur'an and Sunnah and after that on the consensus of Muslim Ummah. But when Muslims desisted from taking advice from Shari'ah (Divine Law) and started taking interest in the words of the Imams to please them, they unknowingly made them parallel to the Prophet (s.a.w), and it will not be a matter of wonder if the Muslim Ummah is deprived of assurance of success and help from Allah. Today's Muslims are far from the qualities of a true Muslim.
In the first two centuries, there was no trace of blind following at all and people did not do anything against the Qur'an and Sunnah, whereas today's situation is the reverse. The world has made immense progress in every walk of life. If an individual from a learned, advanced and informed nation reverts to Islam, and finds various sects with different principles and views before him, he will be confused, standing at the crossroads, not knowing which way to go. It will be almost impossible to make him believe that this particular sect or this particular Mazhab is correct and true Islam, or to make him believe that with all our differences, and inspiration about having various sects, we are one nation. If we, the Muslim Ummah, simply follow the Qur'an and Sunnah, it will be very easy to understand true, simple and real Islam.
When we look into the verdicts of jurists and notice their differences and ponder over the arguments behind disagreements, we are struck with amazement. If strong and reasonable arguments are brought to settle their differences and adopt the right path, they reject them on the basis that such and such a Imam is against this view, whereas the view itself is not authentic and many of the narrators of this view are absent from the chain of narrators. Such unauthentic views are deemed to be sufficient to leave aside the Sahih Hadith. Their attitudes have caused a radical distance from original sources of guidance, and cut off the Muslim Ummah from its origins and roots. In Islam it is not permissible to seek guidance from any other source except the Qur'an and Sunnah, it is a must to obey the orders of Allah and His Messenger (s.a.w), and not to obey anyone else. He who obeys others, other than Allah, is a polytheist and his end is nothing but destruction. Allah says in the Qur'an:
This verse from the Noble Qur'an should be enough to shake the blind followers and make them tremble in their hearts. Concerning matters of religion, blind following is prohibited in either case, whether in case of faith and worship or in case of lawfulness and prohibition of things. It is not permitted to follow anyone in this regard, only the Qur'an and Sunnah should be followed and nothing else. This verse of Qur'an is also a warning for Imams who mislead, but those Imams who lead the people to the right path and warn them from doing anything wrong or against the tenets of faith, are excluded and free.
Some interpreters of the Noble Qur'an hold the view that such verses are about pagans and polytheists. It is correct that such verses are about pagans, but actually these are much broader in sense and meanings, and serve as warning for Muslims. If we take their bare meaning and associate these verses to Jews and Christians, their significance is lessened and universality of Qur'anic verses is decreased. Today most of the Muslims do not take any warning from the verses of the Qur'an and think only that utterance of "La ilaha illallah" is sufficient for salvation on the Day of Judgement. This thinking is not correct, many hypocrites say "La ilaha illallah".
Allah has mentioned various types and forms of polytheism with reference to pagans in the Noble Qur'an for the sake of Muslims to understand and take warning from the example of pagans and save themselves from destruction.
Arrogant leaders of blind followers think that people who could take guidance directly from the Noble Qur'an have passed away and now no one can replace them, because essential qualities needed to infer guidance from the Book cannot accumulate in one person. So, a direct system of acquiring guidance from the Noble Qur'an is stopped, whereas all earlier guided people, Companions of the Prophet (s.a.w), their followers and all four Imams, unanimously declared that no one should act upon the words of anyone without knowing and understanding the arguments behind them. Later some scholars of the followers made it legal and lawful that an ignorant and uneducated person can follow the words of a jurist without knowing and understand the arguments behind the words.
Still later, a period of fixated followers came, when it was entirely prohibited to deduct any inference from the Qur'an, and anyone who tried to understand the meaning of the Qur'an and Sunnah and endeavored to act accordingly was declared 'misled' and 'dissolute'. It is an absurdity and open malice against religion. Even more strange is the fact that people having a mind and education accepted and admitted their views. Logically speaking, these scholars and jurists became equal in dignity to Allah for people. Because people accepted their views and opinion instead of accepting the commands of Noble Qur'an and Hadith of the Prophet (s.a.w). The author has also written a booklet entitled "Al-Burhanus Sati" in the explanation of the verse, [2:167]. This booklet has been published in Egypt, anyone who needs more information about the topic may consult it.
May Allah guide us to the Right Path. Ameen